Although the North Shore has increasingly become identified with mountain biking, road riding has enjoyed a longer, though less lustrous, appeal. Alex Steida, the first Canadian cyclist to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, trained on the North Shore in the 1980s. Here are a few smooth routes to roll your skinny tires on.
You’d think they designed the paved Seymour Mainline, which runs for 8.7 miles (14 km) through the Seymour Demonstration Forest, with bicycles (and in-line skates and strollers, for that matter) in mind rather than logging trucks. With the exception of one moderately steep hill at its midpoint, this is an easy ride to the walls of the Seymour Dam. (Depending on the time of year, a torrent or a trickle of water will be spilling from the dam’s gates.) Note: There’s no water available along this route, so in warm summer months bring plenty.
Along the way you’ll have one of the best views of Mount Seymour‘s deceptively gentle-looking peaks. There’s one drawback: on weekdays during working hours, all but the first 1.25 miles (2 km) of the road are closed to recreation. Even when the weather is at its hottest in Vancouver, there’s always a soft breeze blowing through the valley. In summer, combine a bike ride here with a splash in the Seymour River, and you have the makings of a perfect recipe for recreation. The entrance to the Seymour Demonstration Forest lies at the north end of Lillooet Road, reached by taking the Mount Seymour Parkway exit (#22) off Hwy 1 in North Vancouver near the Second Narrows Bridge. A large green GVRD sign at the intersection of the parkway and Lillooet Road points straight ahead on Lillooet to the Seymour Demonstration Forest. The last section of the road is unpaved. A tipoff that you’re on the right road is that you’ll often see groups of cyclists well before you reach the park.
Both the 5-mile (8-km) Cypress Parkway (Cypress Provincial Park) in West Vancouver and the 7.4-mile (12-km) Mount Seymour Road in North Vancouver have wide paved shoulders for those cyclists who enjoy the challenge of a lengthy ascent. Cypress Parkway climbs through four switchbacks from the Upper Levels Hwy (Hwy 1) to the parking lot at the foot of Cypress Bowl’s downhill ski runs. Hard-core cyclists lash skis and poles to their frames in winter when making their way here. Mount Seymour Road provides a similar challenge. Riders on both routes are rewarded with viewpoints midway up each mountain, and the scream of wind in the vents of their helmets on the way down. Check your brakes!